Some of the wealthiest New Yorkers are asking the state to raise their taxes.

Eighty people including George Soros, Steven Rockefeller and Abigail Disney wrote to lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying they and other top earners should pay more to support schools, roads, bridges and programs to help poor and homeless residents of the state.

“Now is the time to invest in the long-term economic viability of New York,” the letter reads. “We need to invest in pathways out of poverty and up the economic ladder for all of our fellow citizens, including strong public education from pre-K to college. And, we need to invest in the fragile bridges, tunnels, waterlines, public buildings, and roads that we all depend on.”

The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, endorses a plan that would create new, higher income tax brackets for top earners to raise a projected $2 billion.

The year of Canada’s sesquicentennial has arrived. Most of us are still learning how to pronounce that word! More difficult yet, we must also decide how best to commemorate this notable moment in our history.

The official celebrations are likely to be upbeat, providing welcome moments to pause in gratitude and count our blessings. At the same time, Canadians know that not all of us have benefitted equally from the past. Indigenous leaders have already stated that they do not have much to “celebrate.” At CPJ, we’ve decided that the best way to participate in Canada’s 150th anniversary is to renew our resolve to work for public justice and the flourishing of God’s shalom in the land.

There is perhaps no better way to do this, than by ensuring our federal leaders complete the development and implementation of a robust poverty reduction plan.

Poverty is a complex phenomenon. No single policy suffices to heal all deficiencies. The goal of civil society groups in these consultations must be to support the active participation of those persons who have lived experience of poverty. They must be the architects of their own liberation. Meanwhile public justice advocates can supply good research into the most effective policy levers. Most importantly, we need to educate our neighbours and organize our communities to create the societal will necessary to ensure that governments implement the structural changes required to reduce poverty.

Premier Christy Clark built a house of cards that could collapse when British Columbians vote in just seven weeks – because both housing prices and foreign ownership are back on the rise in Metro Vancouver – which has the English-speaking world’s third worst housing affordability.

It’s happening just as the B.C. Liberal government last week exempted foreign nationals with work permits and up to 170,000 foreign students from the Metro Vancouver 15% foreign buyers tax, letting them apply for refunds if they recently bought homes.

Housing, poverty and homelessness are the most pressing concern for 29% of B.C. voters compared to 18% for health care and 17% for jobs and the economy, according to a November 2016 Insights West poll. And 71% said Clark had done either a very bad or bad job on their top issue.

Some poverty in Guelph can’t be ignored, whether it is the woman who lives in a tent on the side of the road with tarps covering her bicycle and trailer of belongings, or the people gathered in front of 40 Baker St. smoking cigarettes, huddled together on a bitterly cold day.

A young woman asks for change at the grocery store and an older woman asks for rides and money and has a specific story when she approaches people. Most people pretend they don’t see them.

An older man who walks through downtown picking up cans and litter used to talk to people, but now usually stares through them.

These are not the only people living in poverty. The majority of people who struggle aren’t visible, so it’s hard to calculate how many people in Guelph live with less. Many individuals and families live in government housing or pay market rent and can’t afford the necessities of life.

New research busts a big myth about people who can’t afford to buy the healthy food they need: they can cook just fine, thank you — they just don’t have enough money to, says Valerie Tarasuk, an expert in food insecurity and a professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Nutritional Sciences.

There are often programs put in place to teach people who are food insecure how to shop and cook, “thinking that if they were just more skilled, they would be able to better function on a low income,” said Tarasuk, who looked at self-reported food skills and gardening behaviours of people who were food insecure.

“What our findings suggest is that they’re already very skilled,” she said — making detailed grocery lists and shopping within a budget.

The single biggest predictor of food insecurity is income, she concludes.

In B.C. Budget 2017, the provincial government continues to ignore the crisis of poverty and inequality in B.C. In fact, if you search for “poverty” in the budget document, there is not one single mention of this issue, despite B.C. having the second highest poverty rate in Canada and one in five children living in poverty. The plight of almost 600,000 people in B.C. is overlooked once again.

Almost two-thirds of those on income assistance in B.C. are people with disabilities (PWD) and they will likely spend their lives on these deeply inadequate PWD rates. This is not a gift but a lifetime of poverty.

For those on basic welfare, there was not even a token gift. Those struggling to survive on $610 per month get nothing, despite the rate being frozen for a decade now. And we all know how much the cost of living has increased in that time as unaffordability becomes the rallying cry throughout B.C. – See more at: